HOME > Chowhound > Atlantic Canada >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Fine and local dining in and around St. John's, Newfoundland

m
mowmow Jun 3, 2007 08:58 PM

Hi!
I am looking for an up to date list of the fine dining restaurants in St. John's, Newfoundland and the surrounding areas (willing to drive up to an hour or three away, particularly for a scenic/spectacular spot). Also, we are looking for local spots, perhaps off the beaten path, with delicious food and reasonable prices- a sort of "best of cheap eats" if you will.

I live in NYC, and my boyfriend is a consultant posted in St. John's for the next few months. I am visiting for about 4 days at the end of this month (June), and that time will be shared between the city and the countryside (once we figure out where else to go!). Living in NYC, we are pretty spoiled by the good food, but gravitate towards local, seasonal and creative cuisine. We are also adventurous eaters and like to try what we don't find back home- are cod tongues still around? Are they as good as I have read one blogger describe? Any other local delicacies we should know about?

Any help from residents or travelers would be greatly appreciated!
-LAM

  1. Smartlikestreetcar Sep 7, 2007 03:16 PM

    Didn't get much of a response, did you?!

    Lest anyone think St. John's is a culinary wasteland, I'm going to summarize Where to Eat in Canada's recommendations (I've lived in Nova Scotia for seven years but haven't ever been to The Rock— or even Cape Breton. For shame!).

    Aqua gets one star— sun-dried tomato foccacia with three bean spread when you sit down, then there's focus on soups— Mulligatawny, beef & parsnip stew... Also lamb shanks and paella. Bananas in phyllo is the sweet of choice. Early bird specials from 5:30 to 6:30.

    Bianca's gets one star— they seem to focus on higher-end preparations of things like halibut (Cajun-style with bitter lemon sauce), venison, and caribou fricassee (with sour cherries and shallots). Sweets are described as "delicate" apple strudel and a soufflé-like bread pudding.

    International Flavours— Pakistani cuisine. There's only one hot plate in the back, so you only get one choice: curries, lentils, or chickpeas on basmati for $6.95 at lunchtime. Wish we had something like that in Lunenburg!

    Oliver's— offers local specialties like scrunchions (no idea) and cods' tongues, and lots of their dishes apparently have an Asian flair. They focus on seafood, as you'd expect. The cod and sweets aren't recommended.

    The Sprout— international fusion vegetarian cuisine, with a menu full of bad puns. Large portions, friendly staff... veggie burgers and Pad Thai are recommended.

    I hope this helps! Maybe your boyfriend has already scouted these places out. Cheers!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Smartlikestreetcar
      a
      annastatia Apr 20, 2009 02:14 PM

      Looking for a restaurant, pub or other venue to have a an 80th birthday party this summer in St. John's. It will be an afternoon affair, but will not be laid back, we need a place that has some atmosphere, pub like or water view for about 60 people and we will need a little room for dancing. If anyone has any ideas it would be greatly appreciated. None of us live in NFLD, Thanks.

      1. re: annastatia
        sinjawns Apr 27, 2009 03:56 AM

        Hi Anastatia:
        For water view and atmosphere, you might try the Crow's Nest Officer's Club: http://www.crowsnestnf.ca/Home.htm. Red Oak is the house caterer. There is a dining room that could be a dancing room, as well as the pub.

        This is not an accessible venue, however, and will be impossible if any members of your party have a mobility impairment. I can think of a few others that pose the same problem. Let me know if that is a concern and I will put on my thinking hat....

    2. m
      maclock Oct 2, 2007 11:50 AM

      I have yet to eat there, but The Vault Restaurant and Champagne Bar recently got a very good review in a local paper: http://www.thevaultrestaurant.ca.

      Here's the review: http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=53982&sc=85.

      I have also been told that Basho, a Japanese fusion restaurant, is quite good. The chef who runs the place, Tak Ishiwata, trained at Nobu Tokyo: http://www.karlwells.com/review87.htm.

      5 Replies
      1. re: maclock
        b
        Bob Mac Oct 3, 2007 06:21 AM

        LOL...I think the reviewer liked it. I was wondering when he was going to finally get to the food after all the enthusiastic prose about the room, the Hugo Boss clad staff ....some who have worked in Toronto and Ottawa...oh joy!!!....and the Fashion TV providing "eye-candy" for the diners...yechhhh!!!!

        $250. maclock is that what one would expect to pay for "fine dining" in St. John's or is this place a tad "over the top" for the area? No criticism intended, just curious. How would it compare to say the Hotel Newfoundland?

        It has been too long since my last visit to Newfoundland and we certainly were not eating in spots like the Vault back in my university days. Truth be known I think the last spot was Duckworth Pizza,

        1. re: Bob Mac
          m
          maclock Oct 3, 2007 04:24 PM

          Well, I was at the grand opening of this place, and while the space isn't my cup of tea, both the kitchen and the wait staff are very good. Most of them worked at Bianca's, a St. John's institution, when it was in its heyday (it may be a little past its prime right now).

          The sommelier used to work at a very high-end place in T.O. The name of it escapes me right now. It has been a long-time since I went out on the town in Toronto, but it was one of the most buzz-worthy and best-reviewed places in the Big Smoke.

          I'd wager that the food is as good as the reviewer made it out to be, but the space is perhaps a little too over-the-top for most of us. I don't know what these guys ordered off the top of my head, but I suspect that the Cabot Club, the fine dining room at the Fairmont Newfoundland, is probably every bit as expensive and not nearly as good.

          Duckworth Pizza? Man, I was born and raised in St. John's and I can't ever remember a place called Duckworth Pizza. You may be dating yourself here, Bob. Might you mean Napoli Pizza, perhaps?

          1. re: maclock
            b
            Bob Mac Oct 4, 2007 06:06 AM

            maclock:

            Napoli Pizza! That is it. Yes, thank you for assisting the flagging memory....blame it on too much Screech [smile].

            Yes we are talking all of 30 years ago so I am definitely dating myself...indeed some would say "stale dating".

            At the time I was playing soccer for a team sponsored by a gentleman who owned a large Italian restaurant on St. Laurent Blvd up near Dante in Montreal. His wife was right into the kitchen as the owners of Napoli made up a meal of pasta.

            We were in St. John's staying at MUN playing soccer against a team from Ontario, the Saint John Highlanders from NB and Nfld's St. Lawrence. Good times. A couple of years later I went to Dalhousie in Halifax and met at least a couple of the fellows from St. Lawrence who had decided to go to school at MUN...Slaney [common name in the area] and Babstock.

            1. re: Bob Mac
              m
              maclock Oct 4, 2007 01:47 PM

              Ah, sure, I'm dating myself now, too, Bob. Napoli Pizza closed about twenty years ago when the old Italian couple running the place retired. It was a popular little place for homestyle Italian grub downtown. One of my childhood friends was a huge fan.

              St. John's dining, while still not as refined as what you're likely to find in Halifax, has come a long way since then! :-) There are a few gems mixed in amongst the pubs, the fast food joints and the fish and chip shops, though.

        2. re: maclock
          m
          maclock Oct 4, 2007 01:53 PM

          http://www.karlwells.com/review87.htm

        3. m
          maclock Oct 4, 2007 01:54 PM

          Local newspaper food critic: http://www.karlwells.com/reviews.htm

          1. c
            carl grigg Nov 14, 2007 01:47 PM

            I've just returned from St John's and stayed at the Battery Hotel. The views from the dining room and the bar over the harbour are panoramic and fantastic. The foods reasonable and not to pricey. We did find a gem, however. The Beach House in Portugese Bay about 5 miles outside St John's. Exquisite food and presenatation. Fantastic service and good ocean views. Voted, I am told, by my daughter who worked as a journalist on a local newspaper, the best restaurant in Canada! Not cheap but very reasonable for what you get. carl

            3 Replies
            1. re: carl grigg
              b
              Bob Mac Nov 14, 2007 04:43 PM

              Carl:

              Not quite claimed to be the "best" restaurant in Canada but the top of the list for the best "new" restaurants of 2007

              http://www.enroutemag.com/e/november0...

              Whether this is correct or not we can debate this type of assessment particularly when it comes from En Route Magazine, but I certainly would try to visit if I get back to Newfoundland given the report and your comments.

              The picture of chef Charles and the halibut on the bluffs overlooking the Atlantic is enough for me to want to give it a try.

              1. re: carl grigg
                m
                mwright Nov 15, 2007 04:05 AM

                Portugal Cove, not Portugese Bay

                1. re: mwright
                  c
                  carl grigg Nov 22, 2007 01:12 PM

                  Thanks for correcting my senior moment. carl

              2. l
                LJS Nov 19, 2007 11:30 AM

                In case you are interested in seeing what "fine-dining" looked like in Newfoundland forty years ago, I will direct you to the Woodstock Colonial Inn (Paradise, near Topsail, a 15 minute drive outside St. John's). The last time I was there 3 years ago, it hadn't changed a bit. Same decor, think heavy mahoghany and flocked red velvet. Same waitresses in aprons. But our daughter joined us from her restaurant job at Il Mercato in Halifax. She had never been to where Mum grew up before and she just loved it. Now we are talking old-fashioned Newfoundland grub here, not high end cuisine, but authentic. Cods tongues with scruncheons, moose stew and rabbit pie and partridge berry crisp and blueberry pie for dessert.It is worth a visit if you have time.

                1. OnDaGo Dec 21, 2007 08:13 AM

                  A local girl opened a place on Duckworth just over a year ago after returning from Toronto: "Get Stuffed" @ 190 Duckworth St. Don't let the name fool you they make great food not extreme fine dining but very upscale comfort food (great for a cold winters night!)

                  1. im_nomad Dec 30, 2007 06:25 AM

                    I don't think the Sprout is open any more.

                    However, being from Newfoundland, and having lived in St. John's for 13 years and visit regularly, i have my favorites !! Aside from Mom's kitchen that is, lol.

                    St. John's is definitly far from a culinary wasteland, and I think alot of people would be pleasantly surprised by the diversity in the area should they visit. I liken it to a smaller version of Halifax, with far more ehtnic variety than say, Moncton (where i have also had a lot of outstanding meals though!).

                    As for the fish and chips...most people flock to Ches's, which is good, but if you are looking for a manificent view and great fish and chips, try By the Beach out in St. Phillips. During the summer months, be prepared for a wait even for the outside tables. They also use canola oil i think in prep, which is lighter tasting than some fish and chip places. you'll get real (aka fresh cod) fish here. If you are going anywhere for cod, be sure to ask if its fresh as some places use frozen , and there is nothing like fresh cod, maybe even caught that day. You'll also get thick, home cut fries at most places. Try fries, dressing and gravy..yummmmm

                    I always loved The Cellar Restaurant, but friends recently visited and said it wasn't so good. It has/had a sister restaurant out in CornerBrook which I also enjoyed several times. I'm still a big fan of India Gate where in addition to several fantastic menu items i've had there, has a very reasonably priced noon buffet during the week which is delicious. The Battery is also great for a view, and i've been there a few times for family gatherings for the buffet, as i've also been at the Hotel Nfld for same. Still a fan of Sun Sushi, i could eat my face off there, lol. The Woodstock would be great if you are looking for game meats and local specialities for sure. I've heard Blue is good, but i've never been. I recently went to the Shanghai, which was pretty good, but pricey. In my recent visits i'm seeing lots of new little gems in the downtown area cropping up, but i haven't tried them. I used to love Casa Grande but i think that's closed down now, it has/had a parnter restaurant in Churchill square called Quintana's as well. Same food.

                    Brunch was always good at Greensleeves (I love any place i can get a fishcake with my breakfast), and after dinner coffees were always great at Christians. O'Reilley's pub is a must i think, and there's always great music. Bridie Molloy's is another Irish pub that serves food, but i wasn't overly impressed (frozen seafood). Had Partridgeberry (lingonberry) pancakes once at Rumplestilskins (Journey's End hotel) and those were fantastic, there's also a fairly decent view there. The Flakehouse used to be fantastic, but since closed down, i think there's something new on the site (Stage house?). Press and Bean (merlo's?) in the Murray Premises was always great. Pasta Plus used to be pretty good too and had lots of good vegetarian options, but i'm not sure how it fares these days. My sister went to the Vault over the summer and they all raved about it.

                    During the summer, it's worth a drive down to Brigus, particularly during the Blueberry festival. There is a little cafe down there that by far serves THE best blueberry crisp i've ever had, not to mention a great seafood chowder. Brigus is a beautiful little place, full of history.

                    For Nfld specialities in addition to the game and fresh seafood dishes, look for toutons (fried bread dough), fishcakes, fish and brewis, Jigg's Dinner (boiled dinner with pease pudding and boiled with salt beef or riblets instead of corned beef or brisket), flipper pie (not something i'd eat but yes, we do eat seals in nfld, contrary to a belief that we only make coats out of them), Figgy Duff (a boiled raisin pudding sometimes served with a molasses sauce or "coady"), and cod tongues (alot of people love them, maybe moreso since they've gotten pricy, but i was never a big fan...the smaller ones are the best, i think). Bakeapples and Partridgberries (not to mention blueberries) are lovely and i love any dessert with them!! Lots of local beers, wines and liquers to check out, lots of wonderful coffee shops.

                    I'm biased, but St. John's and Newfoundland in general, is fantastic for food !

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: im_nomad
                      l
                      LJS Jan 23, 2008 11:40 AM

                      Nomad: just caught up with your contribution and I don't know whether I am more choked up with nostalgia or faint with hunger! I am from St. John's, too and living in TO now, but still visit and eat...I know BY the Beach well and totally agree...I also lived in Corner Brook and am curious about your reference to a sister to The Cellar...is that the place downstairs in the Glyn Mill Inn?

                      1. re: LJS
                        im_nomad Jan 25, 2008 03:26 PM

                        No, that place was called the Wine Cellar or something like it, but it was also good. This place was called something else, and was over on that street where the Royal Bank was. West Street? I think it might have been called Thirteen West?? I thought i had heard it had since closed down.

                        Yay Newfoundland...!!! Always good to "meet" a fellow enthusiast!
                        Do you also stock up on salt fish and cans of corn on the cob when you go home? And recently that canned vegetable salad they discontinued. lol. Since i've moved away i have a sudden affinity for anything and everything that i can't get on the "mainland". Translates into many an overweight piece of luggage ! haha.

                    2. b
                      bigfiver69 Mar 4, 2008 12:41 PM

                      Even though I now live in Toronto (food heaven) I grew up in St. John’s, and lived there for a couple of years recently. For a city of about 200,000 people, it has a remarkably diverse and satisfying restaurant scene.

                      Fish and Chips. You’d expect a city that was built on the back of the cod fishery to have great fish and chips, and St. John’s does. We grew up on Ches’, on Military road. I find the quality a little variable, but when they’re on, they’re the best. I also really like Leo’s (just up the road) and the Big ‘R’ (just down the road). At the Big ‘R’, go for the deluxe fish and chips, with dressing (really, turkey stuffing) gravy and peas. It’s a delight. Velmas, a sit down restaurant on Water Street, also serves excellent fee&chee. If you’re out by the Avalon Mall, hit Scampers on O’Leary Avenue… the best overall in my opinion, but a little out of the way.

                      Chinese. St. John’s has always had a sizable Chinese community, part of a wave of immigration that arrived over a century ago to help build the Newfoundland railway. And there are some real gems in the city that serve GREAT Chinese. Everyone raves about Magic Wok on the west end of Water Street, and it is fabulous. For old school North American Chinese, try the Kenmount out on Kenmount Road. My favorite, though, is the China House. It’s tucked away in a dying mall on Torbay Road, but its menu goes beyond the typical chicken balls, rice and honey garlic spareribs… check the menu for their Szechaun, Hunan and Mongolian dishes. If you have to choose one dish, make sure it’s the Mongolian beef on a sizzling platter. It’s incredible.

                      Pizza. Likewise, there are a LOT of pizza joints in St. John’s. Old-timers will swoon over now-defunct places like Napoli and Roma. The last of the true old school places is Venice Pizzeria on Military Road. We used to order there in the ‘70s, and when I revisited the place a couple of years ago, they were still doing it right. Try a large with tomoato, pepperoni, hamburger and bacon – that’s a killer pie. I also like Stoggers’ further up Military Road… but sometimes the crust is a little thick for my liking. Still, they make a solid pie.

                      Mexican. Zapata on Bates Hill is fabulous…. Whatever you do, make sure you get lots of the chili…. It’s ridiculous. There is an okay Mexicali Rosas on George Street, and

                      Special mention has to go to International Flavours at the foot of Signal Hill Road. If you’re staying in St. John’s at the Hotel Newfoundland, International Flavours is right behind, a block or two over. There is no menu, just whatever the owner – a lovely woman who cooks delicious Pakistani food – chooses to put on the plate. A heap of rice, a vegetable curry, and a couple of lentil dishes, topped with chicken. It’s the best deal in the city. When you’re there ask for pickle on the side, and a little bowl of sweet chutney for the table.

                      As for other Indian, try India Gate on Duckworth Street. Excellent.

                      Other…. There are a number of other interesting places around the city. If you’re on the run, get a Turkey Sandwich from Breen’s convenience (also sold at other small stores around the city) – turkey, dressing, mayo and cranberry sauce on the softest white bread you’ve ever had. The garlicky ribs at Papa’s in Churchill Square are fine eating (granted, haven’t had them in many years.) And don’t forget the turkey rolls at Fabulous Foods up on Merrymeeting Road (also, good fish and chips.)

                      If you’re road-tripping, there’s excellent food to be had up towards Bonavista, at Greening’s restaurant in Lethbridge (a classic roadside restaurant with fantastic home-style cooking… I’m biased, because it’s run by my wife’s aunt and uncle… but honestly, it’s incredible. Try the pie.) And Fisher’s Loft, a lovely cottage-style hotel/b&b in Port Rexton. Delicious food there too. Down past Bay Bulls, there’s the Captain’s Table – more great seafood.

                      Most underrated food on the island of Newfoundland? Easily, these would be the restaurants in the Irving Gas Stations across the province. Mostly home-style cooking, and usually delicious. The best ones are the one just outside Clarenville (used to be called the Jigger… might still be) and the one in the Donovan’s Industrial Park, out towards Paradise… the place is usually packed on Sundays for the Turkey and Jiggs Dinner special (with salt meat and cabbage). It’s worth the trip, and you won’t leave hungry.

                      And one last point… ask the locals. Restaurants open and close pretty frequently in St. John’s, so you might get lucky and hit something good.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bigfiver69
                        l
                        LJS Mar 5, 2008 07:50 AM

                        Oh, stop, you are killing me! I am so overcome with "foodstalgia" (that mix of hunger and nostalgia that threatens to swamp you) I can hardly see to type.

                        The Irving's Mainway/Big Stop Hot Turkey Sandwich/Papa's ribs and the way it looks at Christmas/ Kenmount Road Chinese eggrolls/Ches's versus Leo's(Iets settle that debate by having BOTH just one more time!) / even the A&W swampwater, onion rings and fried chicken which is NOT the same as other A&W's...but for me most of all it is the Woodstock Colonial Inn Rabbit Pie...OK, I am stopping now, 'cause I am officially in tears, at my desk where I am supposed to be a mature working person, not a puddle of starving perpetually homesick sentimentality...

                        1. re: LJS
                          b
                          bigfiver69 Mar 7, 2008 05:31 AM

                          You know, you could write a book on the history and variations of Fish and Chips in St. John's alone.

                          Interestingly, I think as St. John's gentrifies (and it's happening) the humble fish and chip shop will lose a lot of relevance.

                          Remember when every strip mall and neighborhood had a chip shop? There was Skippers in the Torbay Road Mall, a great shop. There was a chip shop in the Virginia Park Mall! There was a chip shop in Pleasantville. (You can tell I grew up in the East End,) It really was a regular thing, and for some families (Catholic to be sure) it wasn an every- Friday -night thing. It really was woven into the fabric of city life.

                          Great fish and chips may well be St. John's culinary contribution to Canada.... and that is no small thing. Whether you go to the R, Ches's, Leo's, Scamper's or any of the other joints around the city, you're pretty much certain you'll find a decent plate. And sometimes, you get something sublime. Try and find fresh cod as much as you can; always get gravy...on the side at the very least; always use vinegar - the malt vinegar in town is different than anywhere else in the world; and if you just want a snack, go for a small C, D, & G - Chips, Dressing and Gravy. It's bliss..... and make sure you wash it all down with a Pepsi.

                          In the same way that natives of Kansas City are connoisseurs - almost in an intellectual way - of barbecue, so it is with townies and fish and chips... I've seen arguments break our over whether it was going to be Ches's or Leo's - and those two joints are pissing-distance apart!

                          As I write this, it is 9:30 in the morning in Toronto.... but if someone offered me a large fish and chips from town RIGHT NOW, I'd eat it with a smile on my face.

                          Shep

                          1. re: bigfiver69
                            im_nomad Mar 7, 2008 02:58 PM

                            Hey, it's protein and carbs, what's wrong with that for breakfast !!! I once ate Ches's at 3am after i arrived in St.John's on a late flight. I HAVE to have it every time I go home.

                            But yes, you're right about there being lots of chip shops in the area, and for that matter, in many smaller communities on the Avalon Peninsula. Take outs like this were where alot of people hung out, and what teen couldn't afford a $1.50 for a plate of fries to share? I lived in Corner Brook for some time a few years ago, and could not find one anywhere like back on the Avalon. Same went when i moved to the mainland...lots of pizza joints...chip shops few and far between. And i made it through university on cheap fries, dressing and gravy !!

                            Ever have to ask someone if it's "real" fish or fresh fish? Newfoundlanders i think, are used to fresh cod right off the boats in their fish and chips, and i've found it rare to get frozen (and often that's still pretty good), and even rarer to find anything other than Cod (which there is nothing else like in my opinion)

                            I'll add another tip, if you're looking to save a buck and still get some good grub, order fish bites and fries. Often you'll get just as much fish (and sometimes more), for less $$. Vinegar was a "townie" thing for the most part (I grew up around the bay), but now i love it with lots of salt. I found it strange when i moved away that I had to ask for vinegar and it was never on the tables. And never malt vinegar. Plus the fries are never thick enough on the mainland and it's hard to find home-cut fries.

                            Last time i was home, Ches's had gotten kind of pricey too, and had some added things on the menu which were meant to be "healthy"...steamer type things. ....not sure why you'd ever wander into a Ches's for a "steamer".

                            i think i'll start a new thread !........

                            1. re: im_nomad
                              s
                              sharonbeer Jun 22, 2008 08:50 AM

                              if you,re visiting st john,s late june , you shouls try a visit about 1 hour outside st jn,s to holyrood,. there,s a restaurant there called the tea garden , beautiful views of the bay plus you can order lunc h ,afternoon tea or dinner very reasonable prices and food is local and tasty
                              another place to go out side st jns about 1 hr is witless bay ,restaurant there called captains cabin great fish & chips + other local cuisine lots of scenery in witless bay also ice bergs there now ,.hope you enjoy your visit
                              sharon

                      2. mdd Jun 26, 2008 02:00 PM

                        Recently ate at Bacalao's in St. Johns and it was fantastic. Service wasn't exactly top notch, but everything from apps to dessert and the lobster main course was perfect. Decent wine selection as well.

                        1. c
                          christinab Jul 3, 2008 06:03 AM

                          Atlantica....you have to call to get a reservation and it is just outside the city. Has a great view, the food is amazing. It was voted Canada's best restaurant. Highly recommend it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: christinab
                            k
                            karenzkarz Jul 5, 2008 05:57 PM

                            Anyone remember the Captain's Cabin in Bowrings?! They had amazing chips, dressing and gravy. I too grew up in St. John's but havine been living in Toronto for many years. I remember many nights eating Ches' or Venice at 3 am after a night on the town. Boy am I glad I'm going home in a month!!!

                            1. re: karenzkarz
                              l
                              LJS Jul 16, 2008 11:38 AM

                              I remember the Captain's Cabin very well-while in high school (Bishops College) I used to work at the Woolworths on Water Street (where we got a discount to eat at their restaurant and did after school before our shift).

                              But every Satruday lunch hour, my pal and I would ditch our Woolworth's blue smocks and go to the CC for lunch. Great fish, chip, dressing and gravy, an amazing lemon square for dessert and the best views in town.

                              This is a great nostalgia thread!

                            2. re: christinab
                              estufarian Jul 16, 2008 04:43 AM

                              Re: Atlantica
                              And don't leave a message on their answering machine - they don't return them. And don't believe them when they say they'll call you back. They don't.
                              And if they say they'll put you on the waiting list - make a reservation elsewhere!
                              Don't know what the food is like - gave up!
                              And they weren't 'voted' one of Canada's best - it was in the Air Canada magazine which, being politically correct, names 10 'new' restaurants that were the best to open in the past year - carefully scattered from the east coast to the west. The restaurants are nominated by local food writers.

                            3. sinjawns Aug 15, 2008 05:01 AM

                              I have to respectfully disagree with the folks who say that the food scene is good in St. John's. I find that the prices are too high for the quality, and the 'fine dining' places have way too much 'tude.

                              The options are primarily very low end (fish and chips at $10 a head) or very high end ($80-100 per person for a dinner with a modest wine.)

                              There is a lot of brown food still-- deep fried everything. And we remain prone to destroying vegetables: boil until all flavour and colour is gone. Sorry to rat out my fellow Newfoundlanders, but many of us still have an unnatural inclination towards this stuff. We are a proud people so will probably resist the characterization.

                              I think a New Yorker will be sorely disappointed here in terms of food, for the most part. Three separate sets of my visitors this year expressed dismay at the food options. I'd love to know what mowmow thought of the place.

                              Still, things are WAY better than they used to be. Here are the best options IMHO:
                              Pizza: Pi, King's Road. Best to make your own, but they do a credible job.
                              Veg: The Sprout, Duckworth. Cheap and cheerful and reliable.
                              Pakistani: International Flavours. Described by others.
                              Indian: India Gate, Duckworth. Pretty pricey these days but good.
                              Chinese: Magic Wok. You have to know what to order. Ask Wanda, who has worked there for many years.
                              Pub: The Ship. Pan-fried cod is good. Cheap.
                              Sushi: Basho, Duckworth. Eat at the bar and watch Tak prepare the stuff. Expensive.
                              Fine Dining: Atlantica, Portugal Cove. It is worth the wait but very expensive. Heads up on the $12 perrier.
                              Picnic: Lighthouse Picnics, Ferryland (in season)
                              Mid-priced: Get Stuffed, Duckworth. Very bad name. Reliable but not exciting food. Nice staff.

                              Last thing: I don't know many people who take those telegram reviews seriously. Best ignored.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: sinjawns
                                m
                                maclock Aug 16, 2008 08:26 AM

                                Of the places sinjawns has suggested, the Wok is the only place I have both tried and would recommend. Wanda knows her stuff.

                                Get Stuffed simply hasn't captured me. And despite trips to International Flavours and India Gate, I don't gush about either (Indo-Pakistani grub isn't really my thing, though).

                                I haven't tried any of the other spots on his list.

                                Pi? Has that been resurrected from the ashes of Giovanni Caboto's, sinjawns? Caboto's did turn out decent grease wheel for a time, but it hit a very rocky patch and then closed. Perhaps one of the former partners revived it.

                                Your comments on the state of St. John's dining are depressingly accurate, sinjawns. No doubt people will get their backs up and perhaps even attack us, but St. John's is not a good "bang for your buck" town for foodies. For that matter, other than Vancouver, no city where I have visited/lived in Canada has good food at reasonable prices. Having spent a lot of time in Toronto and Montreal, I always chuckle to myself when people from those cities drone on at length about the presumed superiority of most of the slop passed off as reasonably priced good food in either city.

                                North America, in my experience, does not have very high standards for affordable grub. I haven't spent time in either NYC or New Orleans, though, so there may be some bits that can redeem our continent.

                                1. re: maclock
                                  sinjawns Aug 19, 2008 07:39 AM

                                  Maclock- Pi was indeed revived from Caboto. I had a very hard time with the previous incarnation. Surly and inconsistent, to say the least. There is a new owner/ partner with the previous cook, and things are looking up.

                                  My recs above are not meant to imply that I think they are all top-notch places-- best of the lot is more accurate. IMO, this town hasn't produced a great pizza in many years (if ever) ; Pi leans too much towards the cal-ital end, but if you make your own you should be satisfied. Thinish crust, good toppings. Very cheerful room.

                                  1. re: sinjawns
                                    l
                                    LJS Apr 28, 2009 08:11 AM

                                    I have a hunch that neither of you will go back this far, but St. John's did, indeed, have great pizza once upon a time...it was, however, WAY back in the mid-sixties. "Tower of Pisa" Pizza. The locale is fuzzy to me... I think it may have been close to the Crow's Nest. It was the first pizza I ever tasted and for years (even after learning to cook myself from living in Italy) remained a fond memory and a pizza to aspire to...

                                    BTW, I do agree with you about the standard of dining in St. John's...I LOVE the city and, though, I don't live there now, I keep wishing the food and service was better every time I come back because folks keep telling me how good its getting.

                                    But, time and again, I'd be told a place was terrific, "better than Toronto!" and then be really disappointed. Either the food would be inconsistent, or the service would be just terrible. This happened with Django's and that pricey steak house also on Duckworth (some man's name?) as well as Bianca's which is WAY over-rated with frightening prices.

                                    I am not sure I would go as far as Morlock and state that "For that matter, other than Vancouver, no city where I have visited/lived in Canada has good food at reasonable prices." In fact, I know I can't go that far. I can name places in TO, Calgary and Halifax where you can get good food at good prices and get served by folks who like and are good at their jobs.

                                    But those places are few and far between in "Canada : the Land that Cisco Forgot to Hate"(any Firesign Theater fans out there?)

                                    Having lived in Europe, it does kill me that we do this so poorly when mere watery miles away, it is done so well...sigh.

                                    1. re: LJS
                                      m
                                      maclock Apr 28, 2009 02:26 PM

                                      Heh, heh, heh...Morlock. I love it! ;-)

                                      LJS, I stand by Canada being a land of mediocrity. I have lived in both Toronto and Calgary, and I was a somewhat frequent visitor to Halifax a little more than a decade ago. I was almost always underwhelmed by the supposedly great places in all three cities.

                                      From chi-chi expense account haunts, to groovy College Street restos, to traditional fine dining faves, I come away thinking "that cost WHAT" all too frequently. And don't even get me started on the all-too frequently hostile and completely inept so-called "service" in Toronto-area restaurants at all price points. How I wish it were otherwise.

                                      Peter Belbin's is the steakhouse of which you are thinking. I have tried it several times and have never come away thinking "I must go back". And I am familiar with and highly respect the Belbin family. They are a lovely, fine, hard-working bunch. I wanted to love Peter Belbin's place, but I can never seem to get much beyond deeming it merely adequate. That being said, he is knocking on a decade in business, so he must be pleasing some folks.

                                      Django's is no more, and I wonder if the "Tower of Pisa" pizza place you are trying to recall may, in fact, be Napoil. Before it closed, Napoil was located at 214 Duckworth Street, the wooden builiding on the corner of Duckworth Street and Holloway Street (the latter being a verrrrrry short, verrrrrry steep hill running between Duckworth Street and Gower Street). The building across Duckworth used to be occupied by the Sir Humprey Gilbert, if I recall correctly, and it now houses Robothan, McKay & Marshall, a local law firm. After Napoli closed, Hayward Interiors, Hutton Music and Pollyana Art & Antique Gallery ran their businesses out of the space formerly occupied by this fine little restaurant. (Pollyanna is still in that space to the best of my knowledge.)

                                      To orient you better, this is the same block on Duckworth that currently contains Fred's Records, the Family Barber Shop, and the Doghouse, amongst others, and it is mere feet to the Crow's Nest. The couple that ran Napoli were the real deal: Italians straight from the old country. Does this sound familiar to you? Of course, many places have come and gone in that area in the last 45 years or so, so I may be leading you astray. :-)

                                      1. re: maclock
                                        l
                                        LJS Apr 29, 2009 06:39 AM

                                        Morlock (for you will always be Morlock to me...) I am going to get a second opionion on that name. I do know a couple of fellow-pizza eaters from the olden days...it was right next door to a women's hair salon, as I recall.

                                        BTW, I lived on Duckworth Streer before there was a Fred's...(well there was a Fred but not "Fred's". I believe it was 292, but I have a hunch that the pizza place was gone before then (i.e. gone by late sixties).

                                        1. re: LJS
                                          l
                                          LJS Apr 29, 2009 12:23 PM

                                          Tower of Pizza is what it was called according to my source.

                              2. a
                                A Pointe Jul 31, 2011 02:59 PM

                                This chain is way out of date - pointless in fact except from an historical point of view

                                Show Hidden Posts